At this point in the academic year, whole cohorts of our young people are undertaking final examinations in courses they have studied for the last two years. Nothing different about that compared with previous generations, we may argue. I would contest this.

First, in addition to the summer series of examinations, students will often have sat many ‘modular’ or unit exams throughout the course. These bring with them a constant sense of pressure, and a need to achieve. There is no cycle of ‘coasting’ and ‘cramming’ that certainly some of my peers built their educational success on at school!

Second, outside of exams, there will inevitably have been pieces of coursework, controlled assessments or personal studies that students will have worked on towards their final grade. Again, with such work comes a perception, often correct, that there is no “let up” in the work. Studying a broad curriculum of subjects, if we multiply these course requirements by, say, nine for our Year 11 students, or by four for our Sixth Formers, I think we can begin to empathise with their situation. Add to this the social pressures of teenage life, and the uncertainties in their world of high unemployment and access to further and higher education, we could paint a rather depressing picture. However, what I experience every day here at John Taylor is an enormous amount of positivity for the long-term, and incredible resilience for the immediate future. Our pupils and students are rolling their sleeves up and getting on with it! They are incredibly capable of differentiating between what they can change and what they can’t. This leads me on to why the quotation at the top of my Blog is so resonant at this time:

“Don’t wish that it was easier. Wish that you were better!” (Jim Rohn)

Our students can’t change the exam papers, they can’t make sometimes abstract subject concepts more straightforward, they can’t manufacture more time between now and their exams. What they can do – and what they are doing – is working on what they can change: their understanding, their skills, their knowledge, their exam technique, their time management. And they are doing it with smiles on their faces, and springs in their steps – mostly! It is this that makes working with young adults so rewarding and inspiring, and this that I want to share with you in my Blog. They are a credit to themselves and to the families who support them throughout.

I close with a ‘mention in dispatches’ to the school’s staff who also share our students’ pressures of constant assessments, modular examination, and the need to achieve exceptional results. They are as acutely aware as anyone of the importance attached to the reaching of potential for every child.

Together – parents, staff, and students – we meet the curve-ball of the examination challenge and send it into the long grass!

Thank you for reading.

M Donoghue

Posted by JTMAT